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The Ultimate Backyard Oasis

How Proper Planning Today, Will Save You Time, Money and Aggravation Tomorrow

Preparation is imperative in order to create an ideal outdoor sanctuary. Whether you’re wanting to add functionality to your property or simply improve curb appeal, proper planning not only paves the way for a seamless process, but it also helps to avoid potential pitfalls. It saves time and money by lessening the chances of delays when landscaping begins, creates an ideal environment for introducing new and additional features, and helps you determine the project’s budget by uncovering any land conditions that could cause additional expense when the work starts. Below, David Ash, owner of the award-winning New Jersey landscape design and construction company, David Ash Jr. Landscape Contractors, outlines what to consider before the much-anticipated summer landscaping, hardscaping, custom inground pools, and yard maintenance undertakings this season.


Before homeowners even begins to source contractors, one of the first things to do is to sit down and spend a significant amount of time looking through magazine websites, outdoor living Pinterest boards and various galleries for inspiration to see which styles, textures and colors tend to grab their attention. “A good contractor will keep the architectural style of your home in mind to ensure your design ideas can be implemented tastefully and harmoniously with your home’s color tones and design aesthetic,” advises Ash “the experience shines through when the designer can effectively translate any idea into a cohesive interpretation with the current existing property structures.”

Another interesting facet of proper planning regarding design is the anecdotal experience of experts, because more often than not, the consensus usually is that you will need more space than you think. For example, ample functionality for walkways or parking cars is usually something homeowners tend to wish they allotted more space towards after living and using the space after a season or two. Patios sometimes are initially planned for furniture but often times overlooked for the flow of traffic and other gathering spaces will be needed around the furniture or swimming pool areas for example. “For those who like to entertain, you will want to plan enough space for multiple conversation zones. And if you’re planning an outdoor kitchen, remember to plan for food prep and serving space as well,” notes Ash.


Since most projects are executed in phases, it is important to predict proper start and duration time in order for your project to be completed by the season (presumably Spring/Summer) that one intends on utilizing the space for.

“All outdoor projects are subject to weather conditions so it’s important to consider this when gauging how long a project will take,” shares David. To his point, it is easy to assume that installing a drop-in fiber glass pool takes 1-2 days, but excavating the property, letting the earth naturally settle, considering winter weather or working through a particularly rainy season may surely delay the ability to prepare the property properly before the pool is installed.

The same goes for product availability. It’s important to note the delivery time of materials for the scope of the project, as many popular items can be backordered during busy seasons, as well as add-ons. If you add features in halfway through the construction phase, it is only to be expected that such changes would delay the schedule and add to the overall cost of the project.


If you have an overall vision for your property and know you can’t do everything at once, you should still plan everything before breaking ground on the first project. Doing so can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road. For example, if you’re installing a pool and plan to add a cabana and an outdoor kitchen later, put in column footings and any needed electrical and gas lines under the pool deck now. It will cost a little extra on the front end but will save significant money and time later so you won’t have to dig up the ground after your landscape has already been manicured. “A contractor who understands the overall vision you present will guide you in these types of decisions and help you plan the best way to proactively place things such as gas and water lines now, if there is a chance you will want to utilize these down the road with additional construction,” says David.


After creating a reasonable plan for the features you would like in your yard, organizing your priorities and your budget will dictate exactly how to execute or alter your dream project to meet those budget restraints. If the scope of a project is too much to handle financially in one season, many times planning the project in phases helps to alleviate some of that overwhelming stress in order to fall in line more with a seasonal budget. “Certain details such as utilizing a linear design as opposed to curves or winding features can make or break a budget,” David Ash notes. “Sometimes a homeowner needs a little guidance and relies on our expertise to suggest alternative perspectives or unique substitutions for features they didn’t even know were an option for their space,” he adds. This is where sourcing the expert opinion of someone who has been contracting outdoor landscapes for decades comes in handy, as their ability to look ahead into the scope of a project and what it entails will give homeowners a better, more realistic idea of what it will really take to get the job done, right.

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